Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Teaching and the 'Real World'

People in some parts of our economy like to pretend that those who teach others are not part of the "real world." I'm not sure what that is supposed to mean. Does it mean that there are no consequences to what we do? That if we do it poorly nothing bad happens?

The Tucson shooting, allegedly carried out by a one-time community college student, demonstrates that the classroom is very much part of the "real world."

When Jared Lee Loughler was given a "B" in a class, for example, he became so angry that the teacher was frightened for her safety. That seems pretty "real" to me. Instructors in other classes said they were so alarmed by his outbursts that security had to be called. That seems pretty "real" to me.

When I look at the wall of my classroom and I see instructions on what to do if there is an "active shooter" in the vicinity, that seems pretty "real" to me.

Of course, one doesn't have to be have an accused mass murderer in the classroom to know that what we do matters. An unfair grade can keep a student out of graduate school, medical school, or law school -- someone who could go on to offer new insights about our world, discover life-saving medical break-throughs, and so on. That seems pretty real to me.

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